Water parks are one of the top destinations for children, teens, and families seeking a way to cool off while enjoying summer fun. This is because most water parks market themselves as a safe place where kids and teens can explore the boundaries of their athletic abilities on the aquatic obstacle course and the extent of their courage on towering waterslides.
However, despite the appeal of these attractions, one of the main draws at most water parks is the wave pool. The wave pool presents a beach-like experience regardless of how far one may live from the ocean. However, while wave pools are generally safe, mistakes and other aspects of their operations can make drownings and other injuries far more likely to occur. If you or a loved one have suffered a serious accident at a water park, the personal injury and premises liability lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm may be able to fight for you.
How Do Wave Pool Injuries Occur?
Wave pool injuries can stem from an array of behaviors, oversights, and insufficient safety oversight procedures. For one, wave pool injuries are made far more likely when lifeguards and other safety personnel are not empowered to perform their job to the best of their ability. For one, some water parks and aquatics facilities may fail to train lifeguards in active scanning procedures and other techniques intended to increase awareness and prevent inattentiveness. Water parks can implement practices and procedures such as frequent shift changes, by providing appropriate equipment, prohibiting mobile phone usage, and through other measures. The failure to ensure aware, active guards significantly increases the odds that an incident will result in a tragedy.
Aside from issues stemming from park employee attentiveness and training, park guest behavior can also make an accident more likely. For instance, guests who enter the wave pool who are weak or inexperienced swimmers have a much greater risk of facing a serious accident or injury. Guests are more likely to make errors or engage in inappropriate behaviors when they are unaware of the park or ride rules or believe that the rules are not enforced.
An additional source for preventable wave pool injuries also stems from the failure to perform routine maintenance on the wave pool and its structures. For one, an improperly maintained wave pool may have drains that lack covers and produce a greater amount of suction than is permitted under the law. These faulty drains can trap a swimmer and lead to a drowning.
Furthermore, wave pools are often equipped with underwater lighting and may even include additional jets in certain areas of the pool. These lights and jets are powered by electricity which is carried by subterranean wiring. When a wave pool is ill-maintained, wiring can fray and water may enter into areas where it should not. This deterioration of the pool can lead to electrocution injuries and also increases the risk of drowning.
Other potential issues at a wave pool that can produce serious injuries include:
- Uneven or cracked pavement can increase the likelihood of slips, trips, and falls.
- Improper or excessive use of chlorine or other pool chemicals can lead to chemical burns and other consequences.
- Parks that allow rough play, horseplay and other risky behaviors by guests are far more likely to have serious injury situations.
What Are Common Wave Pool Injuries People Sue For?
the most shocking and high-profile type of injury that can be sustained in a wave pool is a drowning. When a person is trapped underwater and unable to breathe, they may experience an array of injuries and consequences. Generally speaking, injuries due to a lack of oxygen begin at roughly one minute and get worse the longer one is oxygen deprived.
At the less severe end of the injury spectrum, being trapped underwater for an extended period of time can inflict mild to severe cognitive consequences. Injuries that stem from a lack of oxygen to the brain and the body can include cerebral hypoxia and other anoxic brain injuries. Due to brain cell death, individuals may have difficulties with basic activities of daily living. If the individual is without oxygen for five to ten minutes, they will almost assuredly slip into a coma and suffer from severe brain damage. At ten to 15 minutes, most people are likely to sustain fatal or near-fatal injuries.
Other injuries that can occur in a wave pool include cuts, scrapes, and broken bones from horseplay. However, due to the nature of wave pools, it is important to recognize that these type of injuries can make it more difficult for a person to swim and keep their head above the surface of the water.
Dangers of Wave Pools at Water Parks
Pools and other bodies of water crowded with people have inherent dangers. The mass of people that often pack into wave pools on crowded summer weekends create a risk, especially for smaller, younger patrons. With many people crowded into the area jumping over waves, it becomes difficult to maintain your footing. Many people can be accidentally pushed under the surface by other patrons. If one person panics because of their low swimming abilities, they may reach out to nearby patrons, pulling them under with them. Lifeguards can only watch so many individuals at once, and many issues may go overlooked.
The sides and bottoms of many wave pools are hard concrete, which creates risks to bobbing patrons. The waves in many wave pools are strong enough to lift patrons and push them back. If a patron goes off course, they could easily scrape against the concrete edge of the pool. If they are unable to control their descent or are pushed by another patron, their head could be forced into the concrete wall. The traumatic brain injuries and concussions that could result are a risk on their own. With the added possibility of falling unconscious in the water, the risk of drowning is increased.
Downing is not always fatal. Inhaling water can prevent the flow of oxygen into your body, causing you to lose consciousness. During this period, your body is not capable of feeding oxygen to your brain. This “hypoxia” can kill brain tissue and create prolonged effects. Any delay in treatment or CPR can increase the risk of brain damage.
Other physical injuries can occur from jumping these artificial waves. Falling from a high height into shallow water can cause severe injury. If you land feet-first, you could suffer broken bones in your feet, ankles, or legs. Falling on your head, back, or neck could create even worse injuries. Patrons who slip under the waves could even be stepped on or trampled by other patrons, risking severe injuries and drowning in crowded wave pools.
Compensation for Wave Pool Injuries
Depending on the severity of your injuries, you might be entitled to substantial compensation. Amusement parks and water parks owe a duty to their patrons to keep their rides and amusements safe and fun. When they fail to maintain these safety standards, people get hurt. Many of these safety standards, especially for wave pools, include assigning the proper number of lifeguards and ensuring they are properly trained to help protect patrons.
If an amusement park does allow you to be injured, they can often be held responsible for the injuries you suffer. This means holding them financially responsible in court.
You may be entitled to multiple areas of compensation for your injuries. First, you could be entitled to have medical bills reimbursed. This would include emergency medical attention, transportation, X-Rays, MRIs, surgery, and physical therapy. If you work and were unable to return to work because of your injuries, you could reclaim your lost wages. If your absence was only temporary, you can receive past lost wages. If your absence is ongoing, you could even recover future lost wages. Lastly, you can recover direct compensation for your physical pain and mental suffering, on top of these other damages.
Amusement parks and water parks are, ultimately, businesses. Their goal is to make money and protect their park’s reputation for safety. This can mean that the park’s legal teams might fight to shut your case down. They may also attempt to offer you free passes or some small settlement for your injuries. Accepting these offers may stop you from being able to sue in court. Always talk to an attorney before accepting anything from an amusement park after an injury. It is difficult to know what your case may be worth without consulting an attorney.
Work With Our Personal Injury Lawyers if You Were Hurt at a Water Park Wave Pool
If you have suffered a serious injury to the negligence of a water park, its employees, or other guests you are likely wondering how you will pay your bills, replace lost wages from missed work, and find the funds that will allow you to get the medical treatment you need. At The Reiff Law Firm, our lawyers work to hold parties responsible for inflicting injuries financially accountable. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call (215) 246-9000 today.